2009.07.07 01:00 - Phenomenology and Intentionality

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    The Guardian for this meeting was Wester, but because she was traveling, Pema took over. The comments are by Pema Pera.

    Pema Pera: Hi Vajra!
    Pema Pera: Good seeing you again!
    Vajra Raymaker: Greetings : -)
    Vajra Raymaker: thank you
    Vajra Raymaker: oh I think I was standing on you
    Vajra Raymaker: sorry
    Vajra Raymaker: : -)
    Pema Pera: no, you were hovering over me like a guardian angel :-)
    Vajra Raymaker: : -)
    Vajra Raymaker: Well you have been in Japan for a little while, haven't you?
    Pema Pera: I was in Tokyo for all of May, then in Europe for most of June, and now I'm in Kyoto
    Vajra Raymaker: Are you doing some talks?
    Vajra Raymaker: a moving summer
    I remembered that Vajra had some interest in phenomenology, so I mentioned one aspect of my latest trip.
    Pema Pera: not any time soon in SL, but in RL I gave a talk at a seminar on Husserl, in Freiburg, where Husserl lived and taught, that was fun!
    Vajra Raymaker: nice!
    Pema Pera: it was in a graduate seminar on phenomenology, on time consciousness
    Vajra Raymaker: okay
    Pema Pera: Wol was there too, Wol Euler
    Vajra Raymaker: in English?
    Pema Pera: and so was Artemisia --
    Pema Pera: no, in German
    Pema Pera: a bit of a challenge, but somehow I managed :-)
    Vajra Raymaker: Well, where do you stand on the issue whether all consciousness must have an object (an object of awareness, an "intentional" object as we often call it in philosophy)?
    Pema Pera: I would start by turning that around:
    Pema Pera: any object comes with an act of consciousness of which the object is the object pole
    Pema Pera: the noema as Husserl would say
    Pema Pera: with a noesis and subject -- so every object is really part of a triplet
    Vajra Raymaker: Well, let's not put too much of Husserl in it too soon
    Pema Pera: subject - act - object
    Vajra Raymaker: I don't like to swallow whole systems
    Vajra Raymaker: : -)
    Pema Pera: me neither; I'm happy to talk history-free -- though I like reading about particular systems, to get inspiration.
    Vajra Raymaker: oh yes for sure
    Pema Pera: so as an answer to your question: I think there can be awareness without a subject-object split, but if you can isolate an object, then it comes with a subject and an act connecting them
    Vajra Raymaker: It's just I have my own system of sorts, and probably get anxious underneath when someone big like Husserl is about to impose his system
    Vajra Raymaker: Whoa
    Pema Pera: Husserl didn't impose much, I don't think that was his intention at least, he was an eternal beginner, starting from scratch more or less five times in his life
    Vajra Raymaker: wait
    Vajra Raymaker: (joke about imposition... needed a word for when someone else's system is so big and solid that it might override one's own all of a sudden)
    Pema Pera: sure, I got that :-)
    Vajra Raymaker: back a couple lines, can we?
    Pema Pera: fine!
    Vajra Raymaker: there was an assumption I cannot buy into.
    Vajra Raymaker: without discussion at least
    Pema Pera: no need to buy into anything, Vajra :)
    Vajra Raymaker: [1:32] Pema Pera: so as an answer to your question: I think there can be awareness without a subject-object split, but if you can isolate an object, then it comes with a subject and an act connecting them
    Pema Pera: I'm not buying into my own hypotheses either, but I like to explore them and grow fond of them in the process
    Vajra Raymaker: Let's examine this
    I began to enjoy the conversation more and more: we seemed to see eye-to-eye on how to explore philosophy, in a free start-from-scratch way, without any prior assumptions.
    Pema Pera: sure!
    Vajra Raymaker: : -) You think there can be awareness without a subject-object split. The phrase "subject-object split" is building in something unfairly
    Vajra Raymaker: It is presupposing that to speak of a subject and of an object is to split something that is naturally one, or one, if we are metaphysically proper. I am not sure I want to agree to the idea that it is metaphysically improper to say there are the two, at least not at this stage in the game
    Pema Pera: I'm happy to use different words
    Vajra Raymaker: So you are telling me you think there can be awareness without an object. Yes?
    Pema Pera: yes, and without a subject too, the two go together
    Vajra Raymaker: And you are also telling me that when this occurs, the awareness has no subject?
    Pema Pera: yes
    Vajra Raymaker: okay good
    Pema Pera: like two ends of a stick
    Pema Pera: can't drop only one of them
    Vajra Raymaker: Well, if things are like that, then you could say that it is like two ends of a stick. But why should I think that we are not changing the subject when we are positing awareness without a subject
    Vajra Raymaker: Why call this consciousness, if there is nothing that is conscious
    Vajra Raymaker: But sorry, I shouldn't grill, as it was my own question
    Pema Pera: I am refering not so much to a speculation, as to an attempt to put in words what seems to be a common thread in the literature of many traditions, and to some extent something that I have experienced sufficiently to recognize the similarities with the reports in those traditions
    Vajra Raymaker: But I am glad you have a position on it! So that I can
    Pema Pera: and please grill, I'm enjoying this!
    Pema Pera: I much prefer specificity than woolly generalities :-)
    Pema Pera: Hi Neela!
    Pema Pera: ah, that's a key question!
    Neela Blaisdale: Hello Pema!
    It was nice to see Neela again, it had been a while since our paths crossed.
    Pema Pera: awareness normally comes with a clear sense of subject -- but that doesn't imply there are no other forms
    Pema Pera: Neela, have you met Vajra?
    Neela Blaisdale: Nice to meet you Vijra, sorry to interrupt
    Pema Pera: we are talking about whether awareness can appear without subject and/or object
    Neela Blaisdale: interesting....and with awareness of being..is that subject or object?
    Vajra Raymaker: okay, now I too have encountered in various traditions -- well, in Buddhist traditions -- the view that there can be awareness without an object. And also (but not in the same passages) in those and other traditions the view that there can be awareness iswhout a subject. But I am not sure how this kind of idea fares when held up against some very clear thinking about the nature of meaning that I have encounterd in other thinking
    Vajra Raymaker: Hi Neela! : -)
    Vajra Raymaker: Just because someone says it, doesn't make it true
    Pema Pera: well, let us start with our own experience
    Vajra Raymaker: Just because you have experienced something in meditation that you might describe that way, does not mean that that is the BEST way to describe it
    Vajra Raymaker: okay, have you experienced awareness without an object?
    Pema Pera: we all have had moments in which everything seems to be flowing just perfectly; there are many ways people describe this; it can be "falling into" a landscape, or into a painting, or into a mathematical proof, it can involve a sexual experience, or it can just something that happens, looking at a ray of sunlight or a piece of garbage -- when that kind of "flow" or "suspension of usual judgment" happens, certainly the sense of subject and object is much less present than it is normally
    Pema Pera: so that would be a starting point, on a sliding scale, from a very present sense of ego that needs to be protected to a more and more free flowing, more and more open form of communing with all that appears
    Pema Pera: with the vanishing point at the other side the no-subject experience -- though "experience" is not a very good word there.
    Pema Pera: And yes, I have had various "experiences" along those lines, some stronger, some less so.
    Pema Pera: and the best way to talk about them would be to say that they involved a keen sense of "no-self"
    Vajra Raymaker: sure. I think that a person can have more or less rigid a notion of the self and that can corrupt one's experience to a greater or lesser degree.
    Vajra Raymaker: But in your examples above, notice
    Vajra Raymaker: you did name objects: a landscape, a ray of sun
    Vajra Raymaker: now perhaps the problem is that language is used to describe experience
    Neela added a more poetic angle:
    Neela Blaisdale: For me also moments that seem "suspended" from a particular object yet encompass a variety of objects in terms of sensing them
    Vajra Raymaker: and language brings in reference to objects
    Pema Pera: yes, using words, and reflecting on experience already treats the experience as an object
    Pema Pera: so we have to deal with that :-)
    Vajra Raymaker: ooo I like that, Neela, moments suspended from an object
    Vajra Raymaker: no, not exactly what I was saying, Pema
    Vajra Raymaker: well, or it could be interpreted a couple of ways "treating the experience as an object"
    Pema Pera: can you say more, Neela, about that sense of suspension?
    Pema Pera: Vajra, memory by definition is couched in subject-object terms, I think
    Pema Pera: so to remember an awareness that goes beyond subject-object by necessity does violence to that awareness, distorts it
    Pema Pera: though it is still recognizable, when you are familiar with it
    Vajra Raymaker: okay, Pema.
    Neela Blaisdale: as if being aware of a whole that is larger than any particular object that I am perceiving...
    Vajra Raymaker: I can see that memory would bring in enough concepts so that the experience would get structured by categories that would define objects
    Neela Blaisdale: but yet the ojects are all there and a part of the experience
    Neela Blaisdale: *b
    Pema Pera: yes, Neela, I recognize that way of seeing objects de-emphasized
    Vajra Raymaker: Nevertheless, even if the original experience (or the current experience : -) ) is very flow-ey and open, what makes you say (in your theoretical mind) that there are not objects of which you are aware.
    Pema Pera: yes, the objects don't disappear, but at the same time they are not longer distinct from the subject
    Pema Pera: that's what I meant with the suspension of the split -- a term you didn't like, but which describes, for me at least, phenomenologically how that feels
    Pema Pera: it's not an erasing of information, but a different way of holding it together, sensing it, as Neela also pointed out, I think
    Pema Pera: answer to "Nevertheless": because there is no (or much less) sense of self there
    Pema Pera: the distinction between self and other no longer holds in a firm way -- not that it washes together, far from that
    Pema Pera: poets are much better at expressing this :-)
    Pema Pera: If I can quote a present-day Japanese zen master, who in turn is quoting an ancient zen master:
    I took the liberty of quoting a particular poetic expression:
    Pema Pera:
    As Rinzai said:
    ``In this five-foot lump of red flesh there is a true person of no rank always coming in and going out; if you have not seen it yet, see it now!''
    . . . It is always coming and going in and out of our body.
    When it goes out, if we see a flower, we become a flower; when we hear a beautiful bird's song, we become a singing bird.
    When we go within, we are hungry, sleepy, hot, and cold. There is a true master like that within each of us.
    We see a river and we are flowing without pause. We see the sky full of stars and we become it all.
    We dive into the suffering of all people, into society's miseries. Within this is a true person of no rank.

    Vajra Raymaker: Well now this is problematic in discerning the structure of experience (and trying to understand the structure of the mental attitudes directed upon the world): what do we use as evidence when we are going according to the descirption of experience. Let me ask my question in a new way. Suppose we say that there is awareness where the distinction between the self and other goes away. Aren't there still always objects of awareness, things of which one is aware?
    Pema Pera: This is very clearly and very recognizably (for me at least, and for many people I know) a description of a non-subject-object experience, the quote I just gave
    Vajra Raymaker: whoops let me go back and read the poem

    time for me to take off
    Pema Pera: It's 6 pm here in Japan, I have to go out for dinner. Can we continue this some other day? I find this a fascinating discussion!
    Neela Blaisdale: Pema where is that quote from?
    Pema Pera: it is by Harada, a Japanese zen master, Shodo Harada, born in 1940
    Vajra Raymaker: oh I'd love to Pema
    Vajra Raymaker: Good talking to yu
    Pema Pera: Rinzai is a Chinese zen master, of a thousand years or so ago
    Vajra Raymaker: and to you Neela : _)
    Vajra Raymaker: : -)
    Pema Pera: shall we pick a day and time, Vajra?
    Pema Pera: what suits you?
    Pema Pera: tomorrow?
    Neela Blaisdale: a good night to both od you
    Vajra Raymaker: Tomorrow won't work, though I may be on SL
    Pema Pera: later this week?
    Pema Pera: HI Bert!
    Neela Blaisdale: Hello Bert
    Vajra Raymaker: how about next Monday more around 12 midnight SL time. Or Thursday.
    Bertrum Quan: Hi everyone
    Vajra Raymaker: Greetings, Bert.
    Vajra Raymaker: : _0
    Pema Pera: This coming Thursday?
    Vajra Raymaker: typing not working tonight
    Vajra Raymaker: sure
    Pema Pera: Hello and goodbye Bert! I have to be off to dinner
    Neela Blaisdale: Well I certainly will look forward to reading your next discussion on the wiki, not sure I'll be awake again at 4 am:)
    Pema Pera: we get together at 7 pm SLT and 1 am SLT, which of the two suits you better, Vajra?
    Bertrum Quan: You are generally not here so late. Are you in Japan?
    Pema Pera: haha, Neela, I hope not!
    Pema Pera: yes, in Kyoto :-)
    Pema Pera: 6 pm here
    Vajra Raymaker: 1 is easier to commit to
    Vajra Raymaker: So I will say 1
    Vajra Raymaker: 7 could be yoga time : -)
    Pema Pera: so would that be on Friday 1 am? Late in the night of Thursday?
    Vajra Raymaker: Friday morning
    Vajra Raymaker: Thursday night
    Pema Pera: okay, so that will be Friday, July 10, 1 am Second Life Time, right?
    Neela Blaisdale: hehe..how is time defined?
    Pema Pera: We got a deal
    Pema Pera: in the upper right corner of your screen, Neela
    Pema Pera: you now see 2:07 AM PDT
    Neela Blaisdale: just kidding Pema:)
    Vajra Raymaker: Let's try it
    Pema Pera: I was wondering, Neela :-)
    Pema Pera: hehehe
    Pema Pera: Great, Vajra, thanks!
    Pema Pera: We have a tradition of "theme sessions", a couple times a week or so, this will be one of them!
    Vajra Raymaker: : - )
    Vajra Raymaker: Sounds good.
    Pema Pera: okay! Bye for now
    Bertrum Quan: It's always a pleasure to see you. Even for a short time!
    Neela Blaisdale: Bye Pema
    Having settled our next meeting, I finally took off.
    Vajra Raymaker: I will look for arguments as to why experience must have an object
    Vajra Raymaker: tc
    Vajra Raymaker: Do you go to these meetings quite often, Neela and Bert?
    Bertrum Quan: I am more of an irregular participant.
    Neela Blaisdale: From time to time for me, lately have been so busy with other commitments its been hard to get here...
    Bertrum Quan: Neela, it's very early for you.
    Vajra Raymaker: Yes, it is hard to sometimes to find good times for all
    Neela Blaisdale: yes ... woke up and couldn't back to sleep but was happy to remember it was a PaB time!
    Bertrum Quan: 6:13AM?
    Neela Blaisdale: sorry I have a trigger on that word that I can't get rid of:)
    Vajra Raymaker: What are your special areas of interest/expertise?
    Neela Blaisdale: no now for me its 5:13
    Vajra Raymaker: if I may ask
    Vajra Raymaker: eech early
    Neela Blaisdale: well, areas of interest ... Buddhism, exploring the nature of things in that and other ways...
    Vajra Raymaker: nature of things... is the best!
    Neela Blaisdale: Expertise... in living my life :)
    Bertrum Quan: Neela, what did you mean by "trigger" on a word?
    Neela Blaisdale: I have this dance animation and used the word G O as a start trigger, now I don't know where it is..so everytime I use the word G O that happens:)
    Vajra Raymaker: lol
    Neela Blaisdale: as in I probably need to soon
    Vajra Raymaker: a very special part of SL
    Neela Blaisdale: hehe
    Vajra Raymaker: I'm off folks
    Vajra Raymaker: late for me
    Vajra Raymaker: nice meeting you both
    Neela Blaisdale: Night Vajra nice to meet you
    Bertrum Quan: Good to meet you Vajra, What country are you from?
    Vajra Raymaker: Canada, Bert. How about you?
    Bertrum Quan: USA. West Coast.
    Vajra Raymaker: Also U.S. actually
    Bertrum Quan: So it's actuallt after 2AM for you too.
    Vajra Raymaker: yep
    Vajra Raymaker: take care
    Bertrum Quan: Bye now
    Neela Blaisdale: I must leave also, good to see you again Bert!
    Bertrum Quan: Good to chat with you Neela. Hope to see you again at one of these late /early sessions!
    Neela Blaisdale: Me too! Take care:)
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